News Column

Patent Issued for Percutaneously Implantable Replacement Heart Valve Device and Method of Making Same

August 13, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Biotech Week -- A patent by the inventors Paniagua, David (Houston, TX); Fish, R. David (Houston, TX), filed on December 20, 2013, was published online on July 29, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by NewsRx correspondents (see also Colibri Heart Valve LLC).

Patent number 8790398 is assigned to Colibri Heart Valve LLC (Broomfield, CO).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention is in the field of heart valve replacement. More specifically, the present invention is directed to a method of making a percutaneously implantable replacement heart valve.

"There have been numerous efforts in the field of heart valve replacement to improve both the durability and effectiveness of replacement heart valves as well as the ease of implantation. A brief description of heart valves and heart function follows to provide relevant background for the present invention.

"There are four valves in the heart that serve to direct the flow of blood through the two sides of the heart in a forward direction. On the left (systemic) side of the heart are: 1) the mitral valve, located between the left atrium and the left ventricle, and 2) the aortic valve, located between the left ventricle and the aorta. These two valves direct oxygenated blood coming from the lungs through the left side of the heart into the aorta for distribution to the body. On the right (pulmonary) side of the heart are: 1) the tricuspid valve, located between the right atrium and the right ventricle, and 2) the pulmonary valve, located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery. These two valves direct de-oxygenated blood coming from the body through the right side of the heart into the pulmonary artery for distribution to the lungs, where it again becomes re-oxygenated to begin the circuit anew.

"Heart valves are passive structures that simply open and close in response to differential pressures on either side of the particular valve. They consist of moveable 'leaflets' that are designed simply to open and close in response to differential pressures on either side of the valve's leaflets. The mitral valve has two leaflets and the tricuspid valve has three. The aortic and pulmonary valves are referred to as 'semilunar valves' because of the unique appearance of their leaflets, which are more aptly termed 'cusps' and are shaped somewhat like a half-moon. The aortic and pulmonary valves each have three cusps.

"In general, the components of heart valves include the valve annulus, which will remain as a roughly circular open ring after the leaflets of a diseased or damaged valve have been removed; leaflets or cusps; papillary muscles which are attached at their bases to the interior surface of the left or right ventricular wall; and multiple chordae tendineae, which couple the valve leaflets or cusps to the papillary muscles. There is no one-to-one chordal connection between the leaflets and the papillary muscles; instead, numerous chordae are present, and chordae from each papillary muscle attach to both of the valve leaflets.

"When the left ventricular wall relaxes so that the ventricular chamber enlarges and draws in blood, the leaflets of the mitral valve separate and the valve opens. Oxygenated blood flows in a downward direction through the valve, to fill the expanding ventricular cavity. Once the left ventricular cavity has filled, the left ventricle contracts, causing a rapid rise in the left ventricular cavitary pressure. This causes the mitral valve to close while the aortic valve opens, allowing the oxygenated blood to be ejected from the left ventricle into the aorta. The chordae tendineae of the mitral valve prevent the mitral leaflets from prolapsing back into the left atrium when the left ventricular chamber contracts.

"The three leaflets, chordae tendineae, and papillary muscles of the tricuspid valve function in a similar manner, in response to the filling of the right ventricle and its subsequent contraction. The cusps of the aortic valve also respond passively to pressure differentials between the left ventricle and the aorta. When the left ventricle contracts, the aortic valve cusps open to allow the flow of oxygenated blood from the left ventricle into the aorta. When the left ventricle relaxes, the aortic valve cusps reapproximate to prevent the blood which has entered the aorta from leaking (regurgitating) back into the left ventricle. The pulmonary valve cusps respond passively in the same manner in response to relaxation and contraction of the right ventricle in moving de-oxygenated blood into the pulmonary artery and thence to the lungs for re-oxygenation. Neither of these semilunar valves has associated chordae tendineae or papillary muscles.

"Problems that can develop with heart valves consist of stenosis, in which a valve does not open properly, and/or insufficiency, also called regurgitation, in which a valve does not close properly. In addition to stenosis and insufficiency of heart valves, heart valves may need to be surgically repaired or replaced due to certain types of bacterial or fungal infections in which the valve may continue to function normally, but nevertheless harbors an overgrowth of bacteria (vegetation) on the leaflets of the valve that may embolize and lodge downstream in a vital artery. If such vegetations are on the valves of the left side (i.e., the systemic circulation side) of the heart, embolization may occur, resulting in sudden loss of the blood supply to the affected body organ and immediate malfunction of that organ. The organ most commonly affected by such embolization is the brain, in which case the patient suffers a stroke. Thus, surgical replacement of either the mitral or aortic valve (left-sided heart valves) may be necessary for this problem even though neither stenosis nor insufficiency of either valve is present. Likewise, bacterial or fungal vegetations on the tricuspid valve may embolize to the lungs resulting in a lung abscess and therefore, may require replacement of the tricuspid valve even though no tricuspid valve stenosis or insufficiency is present.

"These problems are treated by surgical repair of valves, although often the valves are too diseased to repair and must be replaced. If a heart valve must be replaced, there are currently several options available, and the choice of a particular type of artificial valve depends on factors such as the location of the valve, the age and other specifics of the patient, and the surgeon's experiences and preferences. Currently in the United States over 100,000 defective heart valves are replaced annually, at an approximate cost of $30-50,000 per procedure, and thus it would be desirable if heart valves could be replaced using minimally invasive techniques and without having to repeat the procedure within a matter of years due to the lack of durability of the replacement heart valve. It would be especially advantageous if a defective heart valve could be removed via an endovascular procedure, that is, a procedure where the invasion into the body is through a blood vessel such as the femoral artery. The procedure is then carried out percutaneously and transluminally using the vascular system to convey appropriate devices to the position in the body wherein it is desired to carry out the desired procedure. An example of such a procedure would be angioplasty, wherein a catheter carrying a small balloon at its distal end is manipulated through the body's vessels to a point where there is a blockage in a vessel. The balloon is expanded to create an opening in the blockage, and then the balloon is deflated and the catheter and balloon are removed from the vessel.

"Endovascular procedures have substantial benefits both from the standpoint of health and safety as well as cost. Such procedures require minimal invasion of the human body, and there is consequently considerable reduction and in some instances even elimination, of the use of a general anesthesia and much shorter hospital stays.

"Replacement heart valves can be categorized as either artificial mechanical valves, transplanted valves and tissue valves. Replacement heart valves are designed to optimize hemodynamic performance, thrombogenicity and durability. Another factor taken into consideration is the relative ease of surgical implantation.

"Mechanical valves are typically constructed from nonbiological materials such as plastics, metals and other artificial materials which, while durable, are expensive and prone to blood clotting which increases the risk of an embolism. Anticoagulants taken to help against blood clotting can further complicate the patient's health due to increased risks for hemorrhages.

"Transplanted valves are natural valves taken from cadavers. These valves are typically removed and frozen in liquid nitrogen, and are stored for later use. They are typically fixed in glutaraldehyde to eliminate antigenicity and are sutured in place, typically with a stent.

"Artificial tissue valves are valves constructed from animal tissue, such as bovine or porcine tissue. Efforts have also been made at using tissue from the patient for which the valve will be constructed.

"Most tissue valves are constructed by sewing the leaflets of pig aortic valves to a stent to hold the leaflets in proper position, or by constructing valve leaflets from the pericardial sac of cows or pigs and sewing them to a stent. The porcine or bovine tissue is chemically treated to alleviate any antigenicity. The pericardium is a membrane that surrounds the heart and isolates it from the rest of the chest wall structures. The pericardium is a thin and very slippery, which makes it difficult for suturing in a millimetricly precise way. The method of making the replacement heart valve of the present invention solves this problem through a process that includes drying and compressing the pericardium using photo-mechanical compression in such a way that makes it possible to handle and fold the material more easily.

"For example, one prior replacement heart valve requires each sculpted leaflet to be trimmed in a way that forms an extended flap, which becomes a relatively narrow strand of tissue near its tip. The tip of each pericardial tissue strand is sutured directly to a papillary muscle, causing the strand to mimic a chordae tendineae. Each strand extends from the center of a leaflet in the valve, and each strand is sutured directly to either an anterior and posterior papillary muscle. This requires each leaflet to be positioned directly over a papillary muscle. This effectively rotates the leaflets of the valve about 90 degrees as compared to the leaflets of a native valve. The line of commissure between the leaflets, when they are pressed together during systole, will bisect (at a perpendicular angle) an imaginary line that crosses the peaks of the two papillary muscles, instead of lying roughly along that line as occurs in a native valve.

"A different approach to creating artificial tissue valves is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,163,955 to Calvin, et al. and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,571,174 and 5,653,749 to Love. Using a cutting die, the pericardial tissue is cut into a carefully defined geometric shape, treated with glutaraldehyde, then clamped in a sandwich-fashion between two stent components. This creates a tri-leaflet valve that resembles an aortic or pulmonary valve, having semilunar-type cusps rather than atrioventricular-type leaflets.

"U.S. Pat. No. 3,671,979 to Moulopoulos describes an endovascularly inserted conical shaped umbrella-like valve positioned and held in place by an elongated mounting catheter at a supra-annular site to the aortic valve in a nearby arterial vessel. The conical end points toward the malfunctioning aortic valve and the umbrella's distal ends open up against the aorta wall with reverse blood flow, thereby preventing regurgitation.

"U.S. Pat. No. 4,056,854 to Boretos describes an endovascularly inserted, catheter mounted, supra-annular valve in which the circular frame abuts the wall of the artery and attached flaps of flexible membrane extend distally in the vasculature. The flaps lie against the artery wall during forward flow, and close inward towards the central catheter to prevent regurgitation during reverse blood flow. The Boretos valve was designed to be positioned against the artery wall during forward flow, as compared to the mid-center position of the Moulopoulos valve, to reduce the stagnation of blood flow and consequent thrombus and embolic formation expected from a valve at mid-center position.

"The main advantage of tissue valves is that they do not cause blood clots to form as readily as do the mechanical valves, and therefore, they do not absolutely require systemic anticoagulation. The major disadvantage of tissue valves is that they lack the long-term durability of mechanical valves. Tissue valves have a significant failure rate, usually within ten years following implantation. One cause of these failures is believed to be the chemical treatment of the animal tissue that prevents it from being antigenic to the patient. In addition, the presence of extensive suturing prevents the artificial tissue valve from being anatomically accurate in comparison to a normal heart valve, even in the aortic valve position.

"A shortcoming of prior artificial tissue valves has been the inability to effectively simulate the exact anatomy of a native heart valve. Although transplanted human or porcine aortic valves have the gross appearance of native aortic valves, the fixation process (freezing with liquid nitrogen, and chemical treatment, respectively) alters the histologic characteristics of the valve tissue. Porcine and bovine pericardial valves not only require chemical preparation (usually involving fixation with glutaraldehyde), but the leaflets must be sutured to cloth-covered stents in order to hold the leaflets in position for proper opening and closing of the valve. Additionally, the leaflets of most such tissue valves are constructed by cutting or suturing the tissue material, resulting in leaflets that do not duplicate the form and function of a real valve and are more susceptible to failure."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, NewsRx journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The present invention is a replacement heart valve device and method of making same. The replacement heart valve device, in a preferred embodiment, comprises a stent made of stainless steel or self-expanding nitinol and a completely newly designed artificial biological tissue valve disposed within the inner space of the stent. The cusp or leaflet portion of the valve means is formed by folding of the pericardium material preferably used to create the valve without cutting of slits to form leaflets or suturing or otherwise affixing of separate leaflet portions. Other forms of tissue and suitable synthetic materials can also be used for the valve, formed in a sheet of starting material. The folded design provides a number of advantages over prior designs, including improved resistance to tearing at suture lines. The cusps/leaflets open in response to blood flow in one direction and close in response to blood flow in the opposite direction. Preferably the tubular portion of the valve means contains the same number of cusps as the native valve being replaced, in substantially the same size and configuration. The outer surface of the valve means is attached to the stent member.

"The replacement heart valve device is preferably implanted using a delivery system having a central part which consists of a flexible hollow tube catheter that allows a metallic guide wire to be advanced inside it. The stented valve is collapsed over the central tube and it is covered by a movable sheath. The sheath keeps the stented valve in the collapsed position. Once the cover sheath is moved backwards, the stented valve can be deployed. The endovascular stented-valve, in a preferred embodiment, is a glutaraldehyde fixed mammal pericardium or synthetic biocompatible material which has two or three cusps that open distally to permit unidirectional blood flow. The stent can either be self-expanding or the stent can be expandable through use of a balloon catheter.

"The present invention also comprises a method of making a replacement heart valve device. In order to make the valve, the pericardium starting material is isolated and all the fat tissue and extra fibers are removed. The biological membrane material is cleaned by mechanical separation of unwanted layers using hydromechanical force means. Once the pericardium is completely clean, the material is dried in order to make it easier to handle and fold. Preferably, this drying is done by exposing the biocompatible membrane material to photomechanical compression to remove all lipids from the pericardium or other biocompatible membrane material and to cause protein denaturalization, transforming the material into a stronger and more homogeneous surface. The valve is formed by taking a flat sheet of the material and folding in such a way that forms a three-leaflet or other number of leaflet valve. Then it is placed in a sequence of solutions, one of isopropyl alcohol of about 70-100%, one of ethanol of about 70-100%, one of glycerol and one of glutaraldehyde, preferably at a concentration of about 0.07-25% for approximately 36 hours. The material is dried in order to make it easier to handle and fold. Preferably this drying is done by exposing the biocompatible membrane material to light and then mechanically compressing the material to cause protein denaturation. This results in material that is stronger and more homogeneous. The valve is formed by taking a flat sheet of bovine or porcine pericardium and folding it in such a way that forms a three-leaflet valve. The valve can also be made in the same manner from fresh, cryopreserved or glutaraldehyde fixed allografts or xenografts or synthetic non-biological, non-thrombogenic material. The folding of the pericardium material to create the cusps or leaflets reduces the extent of suturing otherwise required, and resembles the natural form and function of the valve leaflets. The cleaning, pressing and drying technique used to create the valve material makes the folding more practicable. The valve is rehydrated after being formed. The method of the present invention also greatly reduces the risk of tearing of the cusps or leaflets, since they are formed by folding a single uncut portion of material forming the valve rather than being attached by suturing.

"Once the endovascular implantation of the prosthetic valve device is completed in the host, the function of the prosthetic valve device can be monitored by the same methods as used to monitor valve replacements done by open heart surgery. Routine physical examination, periodic echocardiography or angiography can be performed. In contrast to open heart surgery, however, the host requires a short recovery period and can return home within one day of the endovascular procedure. The replacement heart valve device of the present invention can be used in any patient where bioprosthetic valves are indicated, namely elderly patients with cardiac valve diseases, and patients unable to tolerate open heart procedures or life-long anticoagulation medication and treatment. The present invention can be practiced in applications with respect to each of the heart's valves."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Paniagua, David; Fish, R. David. Percutaneously Implantable Replacement Heart Valve Device and Method of Making Same. U.S. Patent Number 8790398, filed December 20, 2013, and published online on July 29, 2014. Patent URL:

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Source: Biotech Week

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